February 24, 2006

Point of View

Shot caller

By Al Carlos Hernandez

By default, it was my turn to take our Bichon pup Miss Sally for her one year or 12,000 miles shots. She was very trusting thinking we were probably going to the park or for a cruise. She started to get nervous when we got to the pet hospital, no doubt tripping after the, getting spayed incident. Maybe she was sensing my patronizing prudence.

We have had her for a year and I’ve been getting flack from some of the OG’s for getting soft, while others more secure in their masculinity have gone out and got toy dogs for their families too.

I’m told by women that adoring this little pup makes me more of a man by showing a loving heart, this is juxtaposed to an incident the other day, when on the way to pick up my wife from work downtown, Miss Sally jumped up at the passenger window, and made friends with a gay dude in an Explorer, who then proceeded to give me goo-goo eyes. Mean mugging him somehow made me more desirable. I remembered a phrase I heard on the streets of New York; ya’ll too pretty for the city…

When we checked in, it is still funny for me, when they refer to her as Sally Hernandez; her name was on the screen as were her health records and my credit information, just like a regular high maintenance daughter.

We were ushered into a small white observation room and left there for what is seemed to be an hour, which was only 15 minutes but I somehow slipped into dog time.

Sally knew something was up after sniffing around the room, she unchacteristically wanted to sit on my lap. She like most young ones are like totally embarrassed to be around their parents.

The nurse comes in, I stand and place Sally on an aluminum observation table; she pulls out a thermometer and shows it to me. The Nurse tries to place the thermometer into Sally’s My Space.com, she yelps and tries to bite her, couldn’t blame her.

Slowly everything seemed to slip into a scene from the film American Me. I said, this is not going to work, is there any other way? She used the medical term “nope”. I asked what is the procedure when a “client” needs this done and there is no other way?

The nurse said, “You grab the dog in a headlock, I or a couple of us spread the hind quarters, and someone inserts the instrument”.

I somehow channeled Edward James Olmos, tilted my head back, slipped the sunglasses down my nose and said in a raspy accented voice, Then write down any number you want Esa, she ain’t going out like this…

The nurse left with a curt “whatever” and I started to feel a wave of guilt crashing over me. Here this little innocent creature looking up at me with soft brown eyes trusts me 100 percent, and I almost got her turned out.

Dr. Sunshine a thirty-something blonde surfer girl Vet walks in and starts to talk to Sally, explaining the shot procedure. She no doubt conferred with the nurse and new I didn’t want any part of the two shot scenario.

They carried her into another room, I was told to walk around the adjacent pet store and buy her stuff, I was happy to be excused, crippled with guilt over the fact that Sally was about to be speared twice, once in back of the shoulder, once in the caboose.

On the way home she wouldn’t talk to me or even flirt with men in Miatas, she was in shock; the pain of the needles didn’t set in yet. That night she couldn’t be held, hid from us wouldn’t eat or drink, use her litter box, she lay in her bed trembling with fear and pain. She stayed like that for two long dog days virtually helpless, the vet said there is nothing we could do.

Have you ever trusted someone, believing with all of your heart that they would never ever do anything to harm you, only to be betrayed?

I know that in Sally’s situation the shots where necessary, although I found out later one was an optional shot for lime disease that she could only catch out in the forest. No way am I ever going to take her out into the woods with Dick Chaney hunting Republican Lawyers.

There are many people, whether Katrina survivors, or US men and Women in uniform who have put an unconditional trust in a Government that is supposed to protect them, provide for them and look out for their best interests. Some of them have suffered in the process.

Working with Sally I’ve learned that loving those who are the most vulnerable you have been called to protect is a serious and sacred responsibility.

“Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous”.

-Bill Moyer

(Hernandez writes from Hollywood.)

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